Trees are often
the target of vandals
An email from Veronica G. in the United Kingdom:
Hello, I am writing you from UK - On
the street where I live, vandals have removed the bark from
the whole of a young sapling's trunk as far as they could
reach. Does this mean the tree will die? Can I do anything
to help this tree? Your advice would be appreciated.
later email, Veronica provided us with this photo
|The tree trunk on the right had
its bark completely removed by vandals. Remnants of the
bark are seen lying at the tree's base. The tree appears
to be in a row of Maples.
Tree bark is often the target of vandals
Unfortunately, trees are defenseless and
can be an easy target for vandals. Whether the damage is caused by
someone intending to kill a tree, or by lovers or taggers carving
their initials into the bark, the end result can be the same.
|The smooth bark on this old Beech
tree in Pennsylvania makes an inviting target for
vandals who like to carve their initials.
Sensitive layers of tissue lie just
inside the outer bark of a tree. This area should be protected from
wounding, since open areas of tissue provide an opening for
pathogens and resulting tree diseases. Damage to the conductive
tissues of the tree trunk also interferes with a tree's overall
health, since it may limit water uptake or the movement of vital
elements (like those from photosynthesis) back down to the roots.
Cross-section of a tree
Cross section of a tree trunk showing the
xylem, cambium, phloem and outer bark
Here is our reply to Veronica regarding the tree in the top photo:
What a shame to see this type of
vandalism, and you have to wonder when one of the other
trees in that row might be next, and what you might do to
protect them from the same fate. The vandal was certainly
thorough! Those wrought iron "tree cages" help of course,
but may not discourage the most determined vandal.
I don't offer much hope for the long term survival of the
tree in your photo. The inner bark is known as the phloem,
and I'm guessing it was stripped off along with the outer
bark. Therefore, even though the tree may still be able to
transport water upward to the top of the tree through the
xylem (inner conductive tissues), it probably lacks the
ability to transport nutrients and the products of
photosynthesis back down to the roots, causing a slow death.
I couldn't see the canopy of the tree in the photo, and
couldn't tell the current condition of the leaves. If the
leaves are still healthy looking, and my analysis is
correct, the tree may even live for several months before
giving up the ghost, due to root problems.
Trees have value
Fences and tree roots